I’m not gonna lie – there is nothing messier than a bushel of tomatoes getting turned into jars of tomato loveliness. It’s a fair bit of work to process your own tomato products, but the intensely flavored results make it all worthwhile.
I’m going to share the short-cuts that I have learned to speed along your tomato processing procedures.
Peeling the Tomatoes
Lots of people already know this little trick but it bears repeating, especially when you are looking at an entire bushel of those bad boys!
- Begin boiling a pot of water on the stove.
- Also prep a large receiving bowl with very icy ice water.
- Slide tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes – you will know they are ready to come out because the skin will start to wrinkle up a little bit.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes and drop them instantly into the ice bath, where you can leave them for as long as you need to.
- Once the tomato is cool enough to touch, you can easily use your fingers to slide the skin off.
(*FYI Bonus* This process also works like a charm on thin-skinned fruits like peaches, nectarines and apricots.)
Coring the Tomatoes
There’s more than one way to skin a cat – er, core a tomato!
- You can simply use a paring knife and cut it out.
- You can use a food mill that spits the bad stuff out one end and the good stuff out the other end.
I have this one:
Turning Tomatoes into a Sauce-Like Consistency
Turning your tomatoes into a sauce-like consistency can be done in three different ways.
1. You can dump the whole mess of cored and peeled tomatoes into a big stock pot, just as they are, or roughly chopped, and cook them down.
2. You can puree them by batches in a food processor or blender and then cook them down.
3. You can put them through the above mentioned food mill, then into the stock pot, and cook them down.
For me, the choice relies on what I am making.
For spaghetti sauces, I prefer the consistency of the tomatoes that come out of the food mill.
If I’m making sauces, like ketchup or barbecue sauce, I prefer to use the food processor.
Consider your tomatoes officially prepped – from this point on you are ready to proceed with your recipe!